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What To Do With That Inactive Member

Posted on September 12, 2014 at 12:00 AM by Barbara Buckner

 As each of you takes a look at your Unit’s roster, you can point out the names of the members that stopped coming and are just sitting on your roster waiting for their membership to expire.  Makes your Unit numbers look great but does nothing to help with staffing and training needs that your Unit is faced with. 

So, what do many Units do? 

Some just ignore it – when their membership expires, they will drop off.  If they wanted to be in CAP, they would be showing up. 

Others – move them into 000.  Cleans up their roster to show who is truly engaged and active and then they work on recruiting new members.

How many Units actually reach out to the member to find out why they stopped showing up and participating?

General consensus seems to be that most Units think that when a member stops showing up, its because they are upset or lost interest in the program so they don’t want to spend the time trying to contact them and open a dialogue.  Yes, we are focused on trying to build our Units by getting members to take on staff positions, recruiting new members, setting up training, etc…  But, what if the reason why they stopped coming wasn’t that they lost interest or got upset?

Remember that phrase about when you assume….

So what are some other possible reasons why they stopped coming?

1) They moved and now the Unit is too far.

2) Work or family issues came up and they just lost track of it.

3) Their schedule changed and now they can’t come to meetings on that night anymore.

Those sound like members that still have an interest in the program, but just need some help coming up with a solution!

Regardless of the reason, and what we may speculate it may be, the smart thing for us to do to show the level of quality and commitment that CAP displays is to reach out to any inactive member and try to open up a dialogue.

 If it is something that upset them and they just decided not to come back, ask them to share with you what the situation was so you can see if there is a solution or – in the case of personality conflicts – see if they would be open to transferring to another Unit in the area that they may enjoy and allow them to become active again.   Yes, you are helping build the roster of another Unit, but your professionalism will change this member’s view of CAP as a whole….which help his his/her retention and may help them recruit others into their new Unit.

If they moved, especially if they moved out of state, they may have no clue where to look and transferring is last on their priority list…so help them with it.  Find a local unit and put them both in contact with each other.  I personally did this with a member who moved from Chicago to Dayton to do his residency…he kept renewing his membership because he wanted to stay in CAP but had no idea where to start to look for a new Unit so he just pushed it to the side.  I put him in contact with a Unit in Dayton and he transferred over to them and became active again.  The Unit was thrilled because this member happened to be an O-ride pilot…and they had been in desperate need of one. 

We never know the situation or the reason why an active member goes inactive unless we take the time to try and have that conversation.

Here is what I did - I created a “form letter” that I sent to the members both by email and regular mail:

Dear __________,

I am reaching out to you because we have noticed that you haven’t been attending our Unit’s meetings in quite some time so I was hoping to talk to you about why and see if there is anything we can do to rectify the situation.  We have some new and exciting things that our Unit is doing and I would hate to have you not be a part of it.  If you have moved and need help in finding a local Unit, I can help with that as well. 

If you have the time, I would like to have just a 10min discussion with you.  Please let me know, by replying to this letter, a good day and time at your convenience that we can talk and a phone number I can all you at.  Or, you can always call me at (999) 999-9999 and we can discuss this further.

We do understand that you may just not have an interest in the program any longer and we respect that.  If we don’t hear from you by ________________ (30 days from the date of this letter), we will be moving your membership into our holding Unit set up for inactive members until your membership expires.  I just want you to be aware that while in this holding Unit, you won’t be able to participate in any CAP activities or training if you change your mind at a later date.

I hope we have the opportunity to talk and find a solution that works for you to remain an active member of CAP. 


Why use a form letter instead of just picking up the phone?  Because we don’t know the reason why they stopped coming so I didn’t want to come across as pushy or intrusive…the letter lets them honestly know why I want to talk to them, puts it at THEIR convenience, not mine, and gives them the chance to think about whether or not they want to stay a member before we talk and they feel put on the stop.

When I sent out this form letter in my old Unit, I sent it to 8 people…2 called me directly, 4 emailed me their response and 1 simply found another Unit on their own and transferred rather than replying.  From the 7 that responded, 5 were transferred to other Units to return to active status.  So out of 8 – we lost 3 members with only 1 that never replied.  We cleaned up our roster and continued to recruit.

How you go about contacting your inactive members is up to you – whatever form you are more comfortable with – but the point is…

Make it a priority this month to reach out to those inactive members and try to reach a resolution or closure with them so as we move into October and start focusing on our 2014/2015 recruiting challenge – it is with a clean slate.

Maj Barb Buckner

National Recruiting & Retention Officer

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